Analysts and participants of the Fintech and wider financial industry in Hong Kong and Singapore are seeing an increased cooperation between the two countries with rivalry making way for partnerships.
The geographical proximity and technology-forward ideologies that are a traditional staple among Singapore and Hong Kong have often seen the two cities pitted against each other as rivals in industry.
These days, however, the two hubs are fast becoming destinations in the financial sector, particularly with new innovations in FinTech (financial technology). More intriguingly, startups and companies from each country is looking to the other for partnerships and expansion efforts, turning the narrative toward mutual cooperation in the FinTech space.
As reported by regional industry publication The Business Times, a number of examples point to the collaborative effort between the two competing cities.
For instance, Singaporean Fintech startup Bambu, a financial robo-advisory firm, has turned to Hong Kong as a part of its expansion effort and opened its first overseas office in the city this month.
Speaking to the publication, Bambu operating chief Aki Ranin stated:
There is a unique bond between Singapore and Hong Kong as regional hubs…with many financial institutions having split teams between the two. The close proximity in distance and culture helps, and both markets mainly operate in English which makes market entry simple.
Mutually Beneficial Cooperation
The technology-forward agenda traditionally set and embraced by each local government along with the English-speaking population has helped spur Singapore and Hong Kong as regional Asian destinations for global financial giant. That trend is continuing with Fintech companies and startups.
“Hong Kong and Singapore both recognize the value of supporting and promoting Fintech,” stated Accenture managing director Jon Allaway who oversees the services giant’s Fintech innovation lab in the Asia-Pacific region. The integration of new innovations stemming from the burgeoning entrepreneurial business community into existing and established financial services is also – proactively – pushing economic development, the executive opined.
More revealingly, he provided insight into why the two cities’ cooperation will prove mutually beneficial to each other.
Hong Kong’s selling point is it is the gateway to China; Singapore is the gateway to all of ASEAN. They both have complementary strengths so while many like to pitch the scenario as one against another, it’s not that at all. Both can and will succeed.
Singapore: Setting the Pace
Among the earliest global states to recognize bitcoin, Singapore saw rapid growth in adoption of the significant Fintech innovation which is now the world’s most prominent cryptocurrency. In a speech from late 2015, bitcoin was seen as a sign of the future by Singaporean prime minister Lee Hsien Long. In mid-2016, the Singaporean banking society held its first accelerator program focusing on solutions for the financial sector, particularly with blockchain-based smart contracts.
Most notably, come November, Singapore’s central bank revealed its aim toward a blockchain inter-banking payments platform, jointly developed with New York-based industry startup R3. The revelation followed the announcement of the ‘R3 Asia Lab’, supported by Singapore’s central bank that sees the country host an exclusive blockchain lab in a 30,000-square foot space.
The same month saw publicly-listed Singaporean banking corporation OCBC laid claim to implement the first regional usage of blockchain technology for remittance.
Other Fintech initiatives from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), Singapore’s central bank, sees partnerships with the Indian and South Korean governments toward cooperative Fintech development.
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